DALLAS – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that air traffic resumed its robust recovery trend in April.
The report adds that despite the war in Ukraine and travel restrictions in China, the recovery is due to worldwide air travel demand.
In April 2022, total demand for air travel (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 78.7% from April 2021, and slightly ahead of March 2022’s 76.0% year-over-year gain.
Domestic air travel fell 1.0% in April compared to the same month the previous year, reversing a 10.6% increase in March. This was completely due to China’s continued stringent travel restrictions, which saw domestic traffic drop by 80.8% year over year. Domestic traffic was down 25.8% in April compared to April 2019.
International RPKs increased by 331.9% from April 2021 to March 2022, outpacing the 289.9 percent increase from a year previously. Several routes, including Europe – Central America, Middle East – North America, and North America – Central America, are actually above pre-pandemic levels.
April 2022 international RPKs were down 43.4% compared to the same month in 2019.
International Passenger Markets
- European carriers’ April international traffic rose 480.0% versus April 2021, substantially up over the 434.3% increase in March 2022 versus the same month in 2021. Capacity rose 233.5% and load factor climbed 33.7 percentage points to 79.4%.
- Asia-Pacific airlines saw their April international traffic climb 290.8% compared to April 2021, significantly improved on the 197.2% gain registered in March 2022 versus March 2021. Capacity rose 88.6% and the load factor was up 34.6 percentage points to 66.8%, still the lowest among regions.
- Middle Eastern airlines had a 265.0% demand rise in April compared to April 2021, bettering the 252.7% increase in March 2022, versus the same month in 2021. April capacity rose 101.0% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 32.2 percentage points to 71.7%.
- North American carriers’ April traffic rose 230.2% versus the 2021 period, slightly above the 227.9% rise in March 2022 compared to March 2021. Capacity rose 98.5%, and load factor climbed 31.6 percentage points to 79.3%.
- Latin American airlines experienced a 263.2% rise in April traffic, compared to the same month in 2021, exceeding the 241.2% rise in March 2022 over March 2021. April capacity rose 189.1% and load factor increased 16.8 percentage points to 82.3%, which easily was the highest load factor among the regions for the 19th consecutive month.
- African airlines’ traffic rose 116.2% in April 2022 versus a year ago, an acceleration over the 93.3% year-over-year increase recorded in March 2022. April 2022 capacity was up 65.7% and load factor climbed 15.7 percentage points to 67.3%.
Domestic Passenger Markets
- Australia’s domestic demand rose 47.5% compared to April 2021, an improvement over the 36.5% rise in March traffic, owing to the lifting of travel restrictions and rising consumer confidence.
- Japan likewise saw monthly gains, with domestic RPKs up 57.0% year-over-year, up from a 46.5% rise in March 2022 compared to March 2021.
2022 vs 2019
Total April passenger demand was down 37.2% compared to the same month in 2019, which is an improvement compared to the 41.3% decline for March 2022 versus March 2019.
Comments from IATA
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General, said of the recovery stats, “With the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities. April data is cause for optimism in almost all markets, except China, which continues to severely restrict travel.”
Walsh added, “The experience of the rest of the world is demonstrating that increased travel is manageable with high levels of population immunity and the normal systems for disease surveillance. We hope that China can recognize this success soon and take its own steps towards normality.”
“In less than two weeks, leaders of the global aviation community will gather in Doha at the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit. This year’s AGM will take place as a wholly in-person event for the first time since 2019. It should send a strong signal that it is time for governments to lift any remaining restrictions and requirements and prepare for an enthusiastic response by consumers who are voting with their feet for a full restoration of their right to travel,” said Walsh.
Featured image: Hamad Doha Airport